July 15, 2019

2018 Was the Year of Wholesome TV

“This year served us a smorgasbord of reality television escapism in the form of wholesome programming: shows that deal primarily in compassion, support, and empathy, and make you weep out of joy and closure, rather than sadness. They’re an uplifting antidote to reality TV, past and present, shows that focus on interpersonal drama or aggressive competition—think The Bachelor, Survivor, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, or American Idol. Rather, these new programs seem to understand the value of, say, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn being a fan favorite for his kindness and dotage over contestants—and they make that ethos their whole premise.

It’s hard to know why, exactly, there was such an embrace of this genre in 2018. Perhaps it’s thanks to the more and more precarious economic health of the millennial generation, or the sheer exhaustion over a toxic presidency. Whatever the reason, we’re all clearly grasping for a smidgen of something like TLC but with a little more wit. Here are a few of our favorite wholesome shows of 2018, and why we love them:

Queer Eye:

Queer Eye premiered this year, but it feels like Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk have been with us so much longer. Much of that is thanks to a successful rebrand of the core concept of the original 2000s reality television makeover show, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. Rather than an exotifying notion of gay men “beautifying” straight men, 2018’s Queer Eye bankrolls on the increasingly popular notion of self-care, and the idea that everyone deserves self-love and to feel that compassion reflected around them.”

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